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Should It Be Compulsory To Have Your Dog Microchipped?

The Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest animal welfare organisation concerned solely with the wellbeing and care of dogs, launched a campaign in 2009 to make the microchipping of all dogs compulsory in the UK. While this scheme has not passed into law, there is a certainly a lot of potential for its introduction in the future, and there is a lot of good to be said not only for having your own dog microchipped, but supporting the mandatory microchipping of all dogs in the UK too. Unlike various different campaigns and proposals to bring back dog licensing within the UK, the introduction of a mandatory microchipping campaign should not be particularly difficult, have any negative impact on or penalise existing responsible dog owners, or cause any moral or ethical dilemmas for either dog owners or non dog owners. Are you interested in finding out more about the campaign, learning why The Dogs Trust believes in it, and what it could do for the good of dogs in the UK as a whole? Read on to find out more!

What is microchipping?

The vast majority of dogs kept in the UK wear a collar with an ID tag on it while they are outside of the home, and in fact, the law already mandates this. A collar and tag can go a long way towards helping a dog to be reunited with their owner if they get lost or stray, however, A collar and tag can be lost or removed, and of course, will go no way to proving ownership if your dog was stolen or the ownership of your dog was disputed. Microchipping is a method of lifelong, permanent identification that cannot be lost or removed (other than surgically) and involves a small electronic chip that is about the size of a grain of rice being injected underneath the skin of your dog’s neck. The information on the chip, a long numerical figure, can be read by a special microchip scanner, as is kept by all veterinary practices, rehoming centres, and other places that deal with a lot of pets. When your dog is microchipped, your details as the owner (including your name, address, phone number and the dog’s details) are recorded alongside of your dog’s microchip number and entered on a centralised database that can be checked and matched to the number of any scanned microchip. Microchipping is often performed at the vets, but can also be done at various other locations, such as rehoming centres and animal charity clinics.


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The Dogs Trust Campaign

While many, in fact perhaps most dog owners have their dog microchipped when they first buy or adopt them, there are still a significant number of dogs within the UK that are not microchipped. The Dogs Trust is campaigning to change this, and want to have it entered into law that dog owners must have their dogs microchipped as a standard part of ownership.

What could compulsory microchipping help to achieve?

There are many very good reasons for having your own dog microchipped, but on a wider scale, the benefits for dogs as a whole of being microchipped as standard are numerous.

  • Microchipping makes it much easier to find the owner of a stray or lost dog, and so greatly increases the likelihood of a dog making it home if something goes wrong.
  • Having a means of permanent identification, such as a microchip present on all dogs would reduce the amount of dogs being abandoned and dumped, as their owners can be identified and dealt with accordingly.
  • Microchipping would help to identify dogs that persistently stray or are neglected, allowing formal action to be taken against their owners.
  • Proof of ownership disputes would be easier to resolve due to a formal record of the original owner being present.
  • Having a dog microchipped confers responsibility for the care of that dog to the owner, and so promotes responsible dog ownership and improves the welfare of dogs as a whole.
  • The workload and time spent trying to find the original owners of a dog by rehoming centres and local authority dog wardens would be greatly reduced, lightening the workload in this sector and freeing up staff to concentrate on other aspects of care and welfare.
  • Ultimately, the amount of dogs being housed in rehoming centres and local authority holding kennels would be reduced, and the turnaround time between finding a dog and reuniting it with its owner or appropriate carer would be shorter, making more resources available for dogs in priority need.

How could compulsory microchipping become law?

In order for the compulsory microchipping of dogs to pass into law, an amendment would need to be made to the Control of Dogs Order of 1992. This law already states that dogs must wear a collar and tag showing their owner’s contact details when in public, and an amendment to add that all dogs must also be microchipped would theoretically be a simple undertaking. However, much like any other proposed amendment to a law or regulation, these things never happen fast! It has been over three years since The Dogs Trust launched their campaign to have the law amended, and at time of writing, a review of the order has yet to be scheduled. The Dogs Trust encourages all concerned dog owners who support the campaign to write to their MP and ask them to support the call for an amendment to the law to introduce compulsory microchipping for all dogs to be introduced. As a responsible dog owner, you can make a difference- have your dog microchipped, support the campaign, and tell your friends.


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